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CASA of Santa Barbara’s Focus on Protecting Children

By Renee Nordstrand on April 17, 2014

Attorney Renee Nordstrand became a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for Children volunteer in 2001. She volunteered her time for many years to protect the rights of children in the foster care system.

CASA’s Mission
The mission of CASA of Santa Barbara County is to ensure a safe, permanent, nurturing home for every abused and/or neglected child by providing a highly-trained volunteer to advocate for them in the court system.

What CASA Does
The goal of CASA of Santa Barbara County is to prevent abused, neglected, and abandoned children from becoming lost in the Juvenile Dependency system.

How CASA Works
CASA volunteers are unique in providing information not usually available to the Court. Because of the enormous number of cases filed in Juvenile Court and dwindling resources to adequately investigate cases, judges are often compelled to make decisions based on less than complete or objective data. One of CASA’s objectives is to provide unbiased recommendations to support the best interest of the child, which can be an invaluable aid to judges. All of our volunteers complete an initial 30-hour training course and then 12 hours of continuing education for every year they serve. Volunteers are supported by the CASA staff in their advocacy for children.

As an advocate, a CASA volunteer fulfills six main roles:

  1. Meet with the child once per week for at least an hour.
  2. Gather information from all interested parties, such as attorneys, social workers, teachers, caregivers, therapists, etc.
  3. Keep an eye out for any unmet needs of the child and advocate for those needs to be met.
  4. Write a court report to the juvenile court judge for each hearing concerning the child. The report gives the judge the information the advocate has gathered, what the advocate believes to be in the child’s best interests, and what the child would like to have happen.
  5. Attend all court hearings regarding the child (usually once every six months, sometimes more frequently).
  6. Monitor the case by doing all of the above until the child is placed into a safe, permanent, nurturing home.

If you’d like to find out more about volunteering, send an email to volunteer@sbcasa.org to let CASA know you’re interested, or call CASA at (805) 845-8364 ext. 2594.

CASA aims at finding children safe, permanent homes as soon as possible and works carefully to match a volunteer with a child to ensure that the child’s best interest is served.

A child with a CASA volunteer is:

  • More likely to find a safe, permanent home
  • More likely to be adopted
  • Half as likely to re-enter foster care
  • Substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care
  • More likely to have a plan for permanency

Abused and neglected children need more help than the foster care system can provide. A Seattle judge created the first CASA program 36 years ago so that children’s voices and needs would be represented in his courtroom. Today, the CASA movement is 201 volunteers strong. Yet 600 children still don’t have the hope that a CASA of Santa Barbara County volunteer can offer. Help us change that, join the CASA movement today.

The Law Office of Renee J. Nordstrand cares about children. We represent children in personal injury and juvenile matters. To learn more about how we can help you, call (805) 962-2022 or contact us online.

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